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Labour & Employment Policy

BC’s changing demographics and shifting employment opportunities present key challenges for employers, such as how to find enough skilled workers, how to adjust to a more diverse and aging workforce and how to comply with workplace regulations. The Council encourages rigorous analysis and proactive policies to address labour issues in advance of marketplace challenges.  The Council also promotes effective relationships between employers and employees by providing information to its members on important labour issues and advising government on policies that affect the workplace.

Population Growth Varies Widely Across BC

In recent years BC’s population has expanded roughly in line with national population growth.  Between 2011 and 2015 the number of BC residents rose at an average annual pace of 1.0%, essentially the same as Canada.  Alberta led the way, with the number of people living in that province surging at an average rate of 2.6% over the past four years.  Population growth in Saskatchewan (1.5%) and Manitoba (1.2%) also outpaced BC.  Population growth rates in BC and Ontario have been virtually identical.

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An Update on Union Density in BC

After tracking Canadian density rates for a number of years, overall union density in BC has now moved visibly below the national benchmark.

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Projections Point to Balanced Labour Market Conditions in BC

The BC Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training recently released its updated labour market projections.

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Labour Mobility an Essential Feature of Canada's Regional Labour Markets

Canada’s labour market is dynamic. People move freely across provincial borders for a mix of reasons, including varying economic and labour market conditions. Given Canada’s vast geography and differing industrial structures across the provinces, the ability of people to migrate to other regions is an essential element of the Canadian “common market.”

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Labour Market Conditions Ease in the Prairie Provinces But Tighten in BC

Labour market conditions in Western Canada have changed significantly in the past year or so. Amid the dramatic fall in oil prices and generally soft prices for many other key commodities, the ranks of the unemployed have increased in all three Prairie Provinces in recent quarters. Consistent with a rise in unemployment, the number of job vacancies in each of the three Prairie provinces has dwindled. In BC, however, these labour market metrics have been the reverse: the number of unemployed has remained stable or edged down while job vacancies have climbed.

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Labour Demand and Supply in Canada: The Big Picture

Concerns over labour shortages continue to be voiced by some leading employer organizations. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and the Conference Board are among the groups that have identified shortfalls in the supply of workers as a priority public policy issue. Some individual industry sectors – from trucking to construction, the IT industry, mining, and the electricity sector, among many others – have produced reports that highlight current or projected national-level worker shortages in certain occupations. Such sentiments are also common among employers here in British Columbia.

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Business Alert: No Change in WorkSafeBC Average Premiums for 2016

WorkSafeBC recently announced that the average “base premium rate” in 2016 will be unchanged from 2015, continuing the pattern from last year. The average rate charged to employers is being set at $1.70 per $100 of assessed payroll, exactly the same as in 2015. 

This should come as welcome news for the employer community, particularly in light of a seeming onslaught of government-mandated and/or policy-driven cost increases in so many other areas (Medical Services Plan premiums, fuel taxes, electricity rates, water rental charges, environmental assessment fees, etc.).

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Planning Ahead for Ongoing Change? (PeopleTalk Magazine)

Most people are aware that the population in Canada and other western countries is aging, that longevity is increasing, and that the front-end of the large baby boom generation has started to retire.  Fertility rates have also fallen, which means the future supply of workers will be under additional downward pressure even as the ranks of seniors swell.  But how quickly will our population grow, and age, in the next 20 years? Will employers soon face a dramatic shortfall of working-age British Columbians?

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Trends in Unionization...in Canada and the Wider World

In many industrial countries the union movement is struggling to adapt to the accelerating pace of economic and technological change and related shifts in business practices, the structure of employment, and demographics. As jobs have migrated from manufacturing, resources and other goods-producing industries toward services, “union density” – the share of the workforce that belongs to a union – has been under downward pressure

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Q1 Net Inflow of People to BC from Other Provinces the Strongest in Two Decades

BC’s comparatively healthy economic performance and attractive climate are luring people from other parts of Canada at a rate not seen in many years.
Migration has well established seasonal patterns, so to compare the movement of people over time the data can be seasonally adjusted or one can simply compare first quarter data to first quarter results from prior years. For simplicity, the graphs and analysis below adopt the latter approach and examine Q1 migration flows to BC for the years 1988 through 2015.

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Economic Growth and Tighter Labour Markets in BC: Some Implications of the Demographic Shift Ahead

Most people are aware that the population in Canada and other western countries is aging, that longevity is increasing, and that the front‐end of the large baby boom generation has started to retire. Fertility rates have also fallen, which means the future supply of workers will be restricted.   But how quickly will the population grow, and age, in the coming decades? Will there be a dramatic shortfall of working‐age people?   

This issue of Policy Perspectives briefly reviews current population projections for BC, shining a spotlight on a few key demographic variables. The findings underscore the steady aging of the provincial as well as the national population.   It is also clear that immigration plays a significant role in the changing demographic landscape – within a decade, it will be the only source of population growth for both Canada and BC.  Immigration can also help temper the pace – but not reverse the reality of – population aging.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Workers’ bargaining power to rise as labour shortages proliferate (Business in Vancouver)

The critical role of skills in a modern economy and the fact that many employers continue to report difficulties in finding qualified personnel raise questions about the future supply of workers.  A number of business leaders have voiced alarm about current and/or potential labour shortfalls. Some worry that the overall economy could be de-railed by widespread shortages of workers.

In thinking about this topic, it is useful to begin by considering the larger economic picture and the lessons from past experience.  Concerns about labour shortages are not new, tending to wax and wane with the state of the economy.  Temporary labour supply-demand imbalances in particular occupations, regions, or industries are not uncommon.  But as an empirical matter, serious and persistent shortages of workers have been rare in Canada.  The reason is that the emergence of imbalances in parts of the labour market typically leads to institutional, behavioral and policy responses that, over time, serve to eliminate or mitigate the effects of shortfalls in the supply of workers.

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Resolving Strikes in Essential Services – The Supreme Court of Canada Weighs In

This edition of Human Capital Law and Policy was guest authored by Delayne Sartison, Q.C., Partner, Roper Greyell.

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Small Jump in BC’s Minimum Wage Makes Sense

The province has decided to hike the statutory minimum wage to $10.45/hour, effective September 1, 2015. This amounts to an increase of 20 cents/hour from today’s level. Going forward, the government proposes to adjust the minimum wage based on inflation, as measured by changes in the all-items Consumer Price Index – an approach which the Business Council of BC has previously recommended. Assuming that inflation averages around 2% per annum, BC’s minimum wage can be expected to climb by a little over 20 cents per year. Within five years, the minimum wage would be roughly $12/hour.

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Statement: Business Council supports new minimum wage policy

“The Business Council supports the government’s decision today to implement a modest increase of the statutory minimum wage of $0.20 to $10.45 and to index future increases to the consumer price index as the Council has previously advocated,” said Jock Finlayson, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, Business Council of British Columbia.

“This brings British Columbia’s minimum wage policy in line with most other jurisdictions in Canada and provides a fair and predictable approach to future increases that businesses can plan around.

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Will Future Labour Shortages Imperil the BC Economy?

The critical role of human capital in today’s economy, the fact that many employers continue to report difficulties finding qualified personnel, and demographic forecasts pointing to a steadily aging population and slower labour force growth all raise questions about the future supply of skills.

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Critical Success Factors and Talent Risks for BC

The September issue of this newsletter reviewed the international, labour market and public policy contexts for talent mobility and development and briefly identified key success factors and risks for British Columbia in achieving its workforce development goals. In this month’s issue, we explore each of these areas and offer suggestions for ensuring an adequate labour supply and successful workforce development in BC.

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'Talentism,' Mobility and Migration: Implications for BC's Labour Market

This edition of Human Capital Law and Policy was guest authored by Kerry Jothen, CEO of Human Capital Strategies.

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Finlayson: The growing role of women in the workforce (Troy Media)

The growing role of women in the workforce arguably qualifies as the most consequential socio-economic development of the past fifty years. As more women have entered the formal labour market, the productive capacity of our economy has been augmented. Indeed, increased “labour input” – more people working – has been the principal factor pushing up gross domestic product (GDP) and household incomes in Canada. And women account for a large majority of this increase in “labour input.” A study done last year by the economics team at RBC estimated that the rise in female labour force participation since the early 1980s has boosted Canada’s GDP by more than $130 billion.

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Job Market Improving…But Employment Growth in BC Remains Soft

July’s revised labour force report from Statistics Canada shows that employment growth remains sub-par in the province. The total number of people working did not change in July. But this sideways result follows an increase of 6,700 jobs the previous month. The past two months have seen a decent gain in the aggregate number of people working in the province and extends the modest positive trend that has been in place for seven or eight months.

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